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My name is Ben Ficklin and I am the head coach of the Middle School Programs for the South River Sentinels Rugby Club. I started playing rugby when I was a junior in high school after a friend of mine had been pestering me to play for two years already. Not starting rugby earlier is one of the biggest regrets of my life. I have been involved with rugby ever since. In college I had the privilege to play for St. John’s University for my entire tenure. I was selected for the All Minnesota team two years, as well as the All Midwest team for two years. After college, I began playing for the Eastside Banshees, a men’s team based out of the South Minneapolis area. I have loved rugby all the while and hope to share that passion with my players. During the day I am an 8th grade science teacher at Twin Oaks Middle School in Prior Lake. I love my job, and I love science! In my spare time, I enjoy doting on my wife, Kelly, riding my motorcycle, working out, doing yoga and reading (a lot of National Geographic and Smithsonian magazines).
My motivation for coaching rugby is simply to share the game. It is a great game because of it’s unique physical and mental challenges as well as the social aspect of rugby. It is the only sport that I have ever been a part of with the expectation being that the hosting team feed the visiting team after the match. This seems so unique in high school, that the players are forced to socialize with the opponents, and I think that is wonderful. This leads in to a national network of ruggers. Once you meet a fellow rugger, you immediately have a friend. This is why I coach rugby.
When I coach, I try to keep in mind that we are fortunate enough to live in a time and a place that allows us to have time to get together and play a game. We spend time together and play a game. We are very fortunate for the opportunity and need to keep that in mind. It is a game that we can take seriously, but we should try not to take ourselves too seriously.
As we move forward, obviously I would like to grow the team, but I’m much more focused on growing the players. I endeavor and hope to instill dignity, respect, a hard work ethic and humility in my players. I want to produce solid people more so than solid players. If I succeed in that, I think the rest will take care of itself.